Monday, November 14, 2011

Kombucha Recipe

So you start off your Kombucha with organic black tea.  I use Newman's Own Royal Black tea.  You can find it in the family size bags or individual bags.  I use the family size and it takes 4 per gallon.  Since my jars are 2 gallons, I use 8 bags per pot.
After I dump my steeped tea into the pitcher I am making the tea in, I fill the pan back up with cold RO and squeeze out the extra tea that is still left in the bag.  You have to be careful doing this, because if a bag ruptures then it gets messy quick!!  SIDENOTE:  It is very important that you use RO water.  Tap water and many bottled waters have fluoride and chlorine in them.  This can be damaging to the mother.

Now I add the sugar.   2 cups of sugar per gallon of kombucha you are making.  The yeast pretty much eats it all, but I recommend you buy pure cane sugar at the least, because the other is GMO, and I don't want none of that near my Kombucha!!
 At this point I fill the pitcher with RO water.  I normally don't fill it all the way, because even though I am pouring it into a 2 gallon jar, I want to leave plenty of room for the mother and reserve Kombucha.
 This is my Kombucha that I am bottling today.  Yes, I brew 8 gallons at a time!!
I then switch my attention to my already fermented 5-7 day old Kombucha.  You can see in the pictures that I used hand towels to cover my Kombucha, but I no longer do.  I use a square piece of muslin fabric, and use a piece of elastic tied as a rubber band.  (I couldn't find a rubber band big enough to fit around the mouth of the jar.
I pull the mother out of my Kombucha along with 2 cups per gallon of Kombucha I intend on making.  I would suggest you use a glass or ceramic baking dish for this, as I have heard they should not be exposed to plastic, as it leaches when exposed to the types of acids that are naturally occurring in Kombucha.
Here is the 2 cups of Kombucha that I pulled from mine to add into the new Kombucha.  I recommend 2 cups because although you can use less to ferment using 2 cups tends to keep the flavor pretty consistent.  I also tend to try and get all the brown slimy stuff that floats at the top in my reserve.  I don't know that this matters, but I have always done this.
I then take the remainder of the Kombucha that is left in the jar (excluding the mother and reserve) and pour it into a salt bucket that we have.  I know I said don't use plastic, but the mother is not directly exposed to this and it doesn't stay in it for long.  Besides this is the only container big enough for me to dump 4 gallons into.  I like to mix up as much as possible together to keep the flavor very consistent.
This is what is left in my jar when the Kombucha is poured out.  I rinse this out in my sink before I put the new Kombucha in, because at first we didn't, and this led to a severe yeast buildup.  It made our finished product very explosive!!
 With a fresh clean pitcher, I now pour the tea I made previously into the jar. 
After I poured the tea into the jar, (make sure it is no hotter than room temperature) I add the mother.
Then I add the reserve to the Kombucha on top of the mother.  It is just really hard to pour the reserve if the mother is still in the casserole dish.
Then I use my little RO spicket and fill the jars up with water.  The spicket is pretty highly charged, so it sprays fast, and mixes as it goes in.  I do always tuck the hose around the side of the mother, and not just put fresh water on top of her.
Then I cover with a piece of muslin (ignore the towel in the picture).  This is of course my elastic strip around the mouth.  It is now ready to go back in the pantry for 5-7 more days.
This is again my trusty salt bucket.  I have added in the pureed strawberries.  I use 1 1/2 cups of pureed strawberries per gallon.  We like this flavor best.  We have experimented with peach, pineapple, raspberry, and blueberry.  The peach really depends on whether you get good peaches, the pineapple was fairly tasty, but my hubby didn't care for it, the raspberry was waaaayyyy too tart, and the blueberry wasn't good at all.  It had a coating effect in your mouth, so we let it sit for about a month (in our Kombucha refrigerator), and when we tried it again it was FANTASTIC!!!  Apparently blueberry is like wine, the longer it sits, the better it tastes!
Make sure you stir it well.  I like to make sure it is very well mixed, and even pour it into the pitchers while it is swirling.  I stop pouring it into pitchers to stir it as well.  You want the strawberry's throughout.  If you don't stir a lot then it ends up settling at the top.
This is when you show your muscle.  I pick up the bucket and pour it into my gallon pitchers that I place on the floor.  Honestly, I don't think I could lift it high enough to do this step on the cabinet.  And these are much easier to handle while you are pouring into bottles.
Here are my pitchers of strawberry Kombucha ready to be bottled.  I do suggest the use of Grolsch bottles, because I have heard horror stories of others bottling in decorative swing top bottles, and explosions happening.  Not funny!!!
I give the Kombucha a good stir, and start bottling.  You have to kinda pour slowly or you will fill the bottle with fizz and not Kombucha.
When I get the whole gallon poured up in bottles, I then close them all and pack them back into the box.  This is where they stay for 3 more days, capped and warm, for a second ferment.  This step is very important, because the fruit has a chance to ferment into the Kombucha.  If you skip these 3 days, you will regret it!!

Here is some general info that I have been asked.  I have heard of people refrigerating their mother when they plan on being out of town for a while.  Unless you are leaving it for a couple of weeks, I don't think it is necessary.  You could just leave it fermenting, maybe put extra sugar in the tea (to keep it fed) and then when you come back, save some reserve, and start new Kombucha.  I have even heard of it being dehydrated and brought back.  I don't think I would recommend this, because it should stay wet. 
If you are having explosive issues, check your yeast production.  Rinse the jar, and check to make sure your mother still looks nice and healthy.  If it is too flat, then there is a problem with your yeast production.  I have heard that some recommend that you flip your mother every time you make it.  DON'T DO THIS!!!  There is a top and a bottom, and they shouldn't get confused.  The bottom is where the yeast grows, if you flip it over you are killing your yeast.

So now that everyone has seen my house, and my kiddos (playing in the background), This is how I make Kombucha.  If you would like a mother and reserve to start your own, feel free to contact me.  I am happy to give these away.  I have never mailed a SCOBY or mother, so I have no idea how to do so.  If you want to suggest a method of shipping, and then pay for the shipping only, I would be glad to do it.  Sometimes I have spare bottles to sell, not always.  If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask.

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